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March 01, 2006


Tracy W

Out of curiousity, what would you substitute for CBA as a guide to policy-making?

Dave Iverson

Tracy W,

Personally, I'd use Herbert Simon and James March's work on bounded rationality. Begin with March's "A Primer on Decision Making: How Decisions Happen." I'd compliment it with work from Karl Weick on "Making Sense of the Organization" and Weick with Kathleen Sutcliffe on "Managing the Unexpected." I'd compliment it with works from Margaret Jane Radin and Elizabeth Anderson on understanding value in pluralistic frames. See Anderson's "Value in Ethics and Economics." See Radin's "Contested Commodities." I would have people begin to understand the power of leadership as Ronald Heifetz and others teach it -- i.e. "Leadership Without easy Answers."

There are no quick fixes available to those who frame things more broadly than allowed in the narrow confines of monetized CBA. Finance and economics play important parts in decision making even when such are viewed as but one aspect of a broader whole. But we pluralists believe that practitioners ought not to make the "category mistake" of thinking all can be reduced to the narrowly framed rationality often posited by practitioners of CBA.

Dave Iverson

People who want to wade through fewer books, to begin with than identified in my previous comment, might start a journey into political decision making with Deborah Stone's "Policy Paradox: The Art of Political Decison Making."

Tracy W

I am stuck with a relatively small available library and expensive delivery fees from Amazon (I hate that part about living in NZ). What are the ideas in those books you'd use to inform policy-making? Could you pretty please give me a quick summary?

Tracy W

I mean summary of the names of the ideas in those books, I might well recognise them once told.

Dave Iverson


I'm away on business this week, but will try to develop some of the ideas more fully in the weeks and months to come. They all come from political science, organizational psychology and philosophical reasoning far from the narrow confines of economics.

Another important book:

Robert Jervis' "System Effects: Complexity in Political and Social Life"

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